Intra Abdominal Pressure - simple version

Posted by David Wang 3 years, 5 months ago Comments

In this routine, we are going to use pressure to strengthen the lower-back. The shape and structure of our trunk allows us to pressurize from the top, bottom and sides of the abdominal cavity causing the walls of the abdomen to stiffen up and thereby producing rigidity across the entire lower torso (including the spine). This multi-faceted compression thus create the very foundations of lumbar spine core stabilization.

Interestingly, KungFu practitioners also utilize this 'pressure' and call it Dan-Tien (丹田). Meanwhile, Sumo wrestlers rely on it to not get pushed over. Olympic weightlifters take it a step further by wearing a waist belt as a secondary reinforcement to produce an even higher potential of core stabilization. This is crucial to produce maximal lift and also to preventing injuries to the lumbar spine when lifting super heavy weights. Though this does not mean we should all begin wearing waist belts, as prolonged wear will result in the dependency on belt-induced stabilization and cause our lowerback to weaken.

This technique of forcing pressure at the abdomen is known as Intra Abdominal pressure, hereon abbreviated as IAP. The IAP training routine below is best suited for people who are currently experiencing lowerback pain, spasms and/or disc-related injuries. It is possible that some pains and discomforts may be sensed whilst performing the exercise routine which should be anticipated to a certain degree. However, if the pain lingers even after you stopped performing IAP, then you should consult professional opinion to find out why. Nonetheless, this routine is very safe to do, and with consistent and diligent practice, a stronger lower-back becomes your best chance in prevention of future reoccurrence of pain and injury.


- - Direction - -
DAY 1 - DAY 3

  1. You may start by either sitting or standing.
  2. Engage pressure by tightening your waist (front to back to sides) and pull your belly button in towards the spine. Using your thumb and index, press into your belly just slightly under the belly button and also on the side of the trunk to check that the abdomenal wall has stiffened up. (Udated with edit 2016-10-25.)
    *If this is hard for you to achieve, imagine someone about to punch your abdomen and you have to stiffen up your abs to protect yourself. 
  3. Hold your "pressurized abdomen" for 60 seconds while breathing normally.
  4. At first, It could be a challenge to maintain solid and constant IAP while breathing, but you will get the hang of it very quickly.
  5. Perform at least 10 times a day. Do it throughout the day or in consecutive spurts.

DAY 3 - DAY 7

  1. Incorporate shoulder depression by sliding your hands down the side of your thighs and elbows right against your body. You want your hands (or elbows, if they are bent) to reach down as far as possible.
  2. You should feel a slight contraction of the muscles underneath your shoulder blades on the side of the body.
  3. Combine shoulder depression with IAP and practice doing the combined routines seated, standing and laying down on your back.
  4. Perform at least 10 times a day while taking deep breaths in and out and slow.
  5. Again, work on maintaining a solid and constant IAP. Work throughout the day.

DAY 7 - (optional)

  1. Next to a couch or the bed, engage IAP and shoulder depression.
  2. Stand and sit.
  3. Take 3 seconds to stand up and take another 3 seconds to sit down. This is one repetition.
  4. Do 20 repetitions or as many as your body tolerates.
  5. Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions per day.

These are the fundamentas of activating the muscles required to strengthen your back. With our daily lives, we often sit prolonged, engage in activities without warming up, perform random heavy-duty labour or sleep on a bad mattress. Consequently, these support muscles can weaken and decondition to a point where injury is imminent. With the techniques of IAP trained and grasped, we are then able to move and to lift heavy objects in a much safer and more efficient manner.

If you'd like to know more about IAP and the biomechanics behind it, proceed to Intra Abdomenal Pressure (IAP) - IN-DEPTH version.

- David  

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